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  1. CONCEPT OF RISK VS REWARD Measuring Portfolio Risk One of the concepts used in risk and return calculations is standard deviation which measures the dispersion of actual returns around the expected return of an investment. Since standard deviation is the square root of the variance, this is another crucial concept to know. The variance is calculated by weighting each possible dispersion by its relative probability (take the difference between the actual return and the expected return, then square the number). The standard deviation of an investment's expected return is considered a basic measure of risk. If two potential investments had the same expected return, the one with the lower standard deviation would be considered to have less potential risk. Risk Measures There are three other risk measures used to predict volatility and return: Alpha - this measures stock price volatility based on the specific characteristics of the particular security. As with beta, the higher the number, the higher the risk. Sharpe ratio- this is a more complex measure that uses the standard deviation of a stock or portfolio to measure volatility. This calculation measures the incremental reward of assuming incremental risk. The larger the Sharpe ratio, the greater the potential return. The formula is: Sharpe Ratio = (total return minus the risk-free rate of return) divided by the standard deviation of the portfolio. Beta- this measures stock price volatility based solely on general market movements. Typically, the market as a whole is assigned a beta of 1.0. So, a stock or a portfolio with a beta higher than 1.0 is predicted to have a higher risk and, potentially, a higher return than the market. Conversely, if a stock (or fund) had a beta of .85, this would indicate that if the market increased by 10%, this stock (or fund) would likely return only 8.5%. However, if the market dropped 10%, this stock would likely drop only 8.5%.
  2. CONCEPT OF RISK VS REWARD Measuring Portfolio Risk One of the concepts used in risk and return calculations is standard deviation which measures the dispersion of actual returns around the expected return of an investment. Since standard deviation is the square root of the variance, this is another crucial concept to know. The variance is calculated by weighting each possible dispersion by its relative probability (take the difference between the actual return and the expected return, then square the number). The standard deviation of an investment's expected return is considered a basic measure of risk. If two potential investments had the same expected return, the one with the lower standard deviation would be considered to have less potential risk. Risk Measures There are three other risk measures used to predict volatility and return: Alpha - this measures stock price volatility based on the specific characteristics of the particular security. As with beta, the higher the number, the higher the risk. Sharpe ratio- this is a more complex measure that uses the standard deviation of a stock or portfolio to measure volatility. This calculation measures the incremental reward of assuming incremental risk. The larger the Sharpe ratio, the greater the potential return. The formula is: Sharpe Ratio = (total return minus the risk-free rate of return) divided by the standard deviation of the portfolio. Beta- this measures stock price volatility based solely on general market movements. Typically, the market as a whole is assigned a beta of 1.0. So, a stock or a portfolio with a beta higher than 1.0 is predicted to have a higher risk and, potentially, a higher return than the market. Conversely, if a stock (or fund) had a beta of .85, this would indicate that if the market increased by 10%, this stock (or fund) would likely return only 8.5%. However, if the market dropped 10%, this stock would likely drop only 8.5%.
  3. TYPES OF INVESTMENT RISKS -1 1. Interest Risk Interest rate risk is the possibility that a fixed-rate debt instrument will decline in value as a result of a rise in interest rates. Whenever investors buy securities that offer a fixed rate of return, they are exposing themselves to interest rate risk. This is true for bonds and also for preferred stocks. 2. Business Risk Business risk is the measure of risk associated with a particular security. It is also known as unsystematic risk and refers to the risk associated with a specific issuer of a security. Generally speaking, all businesses in the same industry have similar types of business risk. But used more specifically, business risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of a stock or a bond may go bankrupt or be unable to pay the interest or principal in the case of bonds. A common way to avoid unsystematic risk is to diversify - that is, to buy mutual funds, which hold the securities of many different companies. 3. Credit Risk This refers to the possibility that a particular bond issuer will not be able to make expected interest rate payments and/or principal repayment. Typically, the higher the credit risk, the higher the interest rate on the bond. 4. Taxability Risk This applies to municipal bond offerings, and refers to the risk that a security that was issued with tax-exempt status could potentially lose that status prior to maturity. Since municipal bonds carry a lower interest rate than fully taxable bonds, the bond holders would end up with a lower after-tax yield than originally planned. 5. Call Risk Call risk is specific to bond issues and refers to the possibility that a debt security will be called prior to maturity. Call risk usually goes hand in hand with reinvestment risk, discussed below, because the bondholder must find an investment that provides the same level of income for equal risk. Call risk is most prevalent when interest rates are falling, as companies trying to save money will usually redeem bond issues with higher coupons and replace them on the bond market with issues with lower interest rates. In a declining interest rate environment, the investor is usually forced to take on more risk in order to replace the same income stream. 6. Inflationary Risk Also known as purchasing power risk, inflationary risk is the chance that the value of an asset or income will be eroded as inflation shrinks the value of a country's currency. Put another way, it is the risk that future inflation will cause the purchasing power of cash flow from an investment to decline. The best way to fight this type of risk is through appreciable investments, such as stocks or convertible bonds, which have a growth component that stays ahead of inflation over the long term.
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